Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legislation. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Liberals, Nationals and Labor all agree they would rather chill political activism to the point of hypothermia


At both state and federal level Australian citizens are finding their right o speak truth to power is being seriously eroded.

This is just the lastest move.....


Bills passed by the Australian Parliament 28 June 2018:




The Guardian, 26 June 2018:

The espionage bill could criminalise protests and communication of opinions harmful to the Australian government, representing a threat to the limited protections on freedom of speech, according to legal advice produced for the activist group GetUp.

The advice comes after deals between the Coalition and Labor on the espionage bill and the foreign transparency register…..

Although the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has rejected GetUp’s claims that peaceful protests could be criminalised, his view has been contradicted by both the founder of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Kate Eastman SC, and the advice for GetUp by Wentworth Selborne chambers.

The advice to GetUp said that sabotage offences could cover “a wide range of protest activity” because the “damage to public infrastructure” element includes merely limiting or preventing access to it.

“For example, a person who intentionally blockaded the entry to a coalmine ... with the ultimate intention of ending the sale of coal by Australia to another country ... could be charged with an offence of this kind,” it said.

The advice suggested the significant penalties of up to 20 years prison “is likely to have a chilling effect on protest activity” such as blockading a farm to stop the sale of live animals to another country.

The advice to GetUp suggests that espionage offences in the Coalition bill may breach the implied freedom of political communication because of broad definitions in offences that criminalise dealing with information that may harm national security.
It warned that the definition of harm to national security did not distinguish between harm to Australia and to its government, meaning “espionage offences [appear] broad enough to capture reputational damage and loss of confidence in an Australian government.”

The bill could criminalise publication of information, including opinions or reports of conversations, to international organisations “which may pose little or no threat to Australia’s national security or sovereignty,” it said.

That could include information and opinions about food security, energy security, climate security, economic conditions, migration and refugee policies because these may affect Australia’s “political, military or economic relations with another country”.
Eastman told Guardian Australia those concepts “could cover almost anything” that embarrasses Australia in the eyes of another country.

Eastman cited examples of reporting that Australia spied on the Indonesian president and his wifespied on Timor L’Este, criticism of Australia’s human rights record connected to its role on the United Nations Human Rights Council, or its treatment of foreign investment and major projects such as the Adani Carmichael coalmine.
Even dealing with the “substance, effect or description” of certain information is banned, a further bar to reporting.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Council for Civil Liberties condemns regulations allowing for bans on public gatherings on public land



Excerpt from New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties post, 20 June 2018:

NSW Civil Liberties Council (CCL) is appalled to learn that in 12 days, the NSW State Government will have incredibly wide powers to disperse or ban protests, rallies, and virtually any public gathering across about half of all land across the state.

On 16 March this year, the NSW State Government published the Crown Land Management Regulation 2018(NSW). Included was a provision which provided that public officials would have broad power to “direct a person” to stop “Taking part in any gathering, meeting or assembly”. The only exception provided for is “in the case of a cemetery, for the purpose of a religious or other ceremony of burial or commemoration”. Alternatively, public officials have broad discretion to affix a conspicuous sign prohibiting any gathering, meeting or assembly – again, unless the public gathering was a funeral.

Police, Local Council officials, and even so-far unspecified categories of people or government employees could soon have the power to ban people from holding public gatherings on public land. The territory where these incredibly broad powers would apply are called Crown Land - land owned by the State Government. This includes town squares, parks, roads, beaches, community halls and more.

These powers will come into effect from 1 July. If these regulations are allowed to stand, the effect will not just be that protests, rallies and demonstrations can only occur at the sufferance of police and other officials. It will be that virtually all public events will only occur with the tolerance of public officials. Our right to assemble on public land will become something less than a license. That right may temporarily be granted by public officials, but it may just as easily be withdrawn, at any time, for any reason. The penalty for defying such a ban or order to stop meeting in public could be up to $11 000……

The time to speak out against these regulations is now. CCL objects to these regulations in the strongest possible terms, and urges their immediate and unconditional repeal……

Excerpts from Crown Land Management Regulation 2018 under the Crown Land Management Act 2016:

9 Conduct prohibited in dedicated or reserved Crown land

(1) A person must not do any of the following on dedicated or reserved Crown land:

(e) remain in or on the land or any part of the land or any structure or enclosure in or on the land when reasonably requested to leave by an authorised person,  

Maximum penalty: 50 penalty units.

13 Activities that can be prohibited on Crown land by direction or notice under Part 9 of Act (1) Each of the activities specified in the following Table is prescribed for the purposes of sections 9.4 (1) (b), 9.5 (1) (b) and 9.5 (2) of the Act:

3 Holding a meeting or performance or conducting entertainment for money or consideration of any kind, or in a manner likely to cause a nuisance to any person

4 Taking part in any gathering, meeting or assembly (except, in the case of a cemetery, for the purpose of a religious or other ceremony of burial or commemoration)

6 Displaying or causing any sign or notice to be displayed

7 Distributing any circular,


1.7   Definition of “Crown land”

Subject to this Division, each of the following is Crown land for the purposes of this Act:

(a)  land that was Crown land as defined in the Crown Lands Act 1989 immediately before the Act’s repeal,

(b)  land that becomes Crown land because of the operation of a provision of this Act or a declaration made under section 4.4,

(c)  land vested, on and from the repeal of the Crown Lands Act 1989, in the Crown (including when it is vested in the name of the State).

Note.
 Clause 6 of Schedule 7 provides for certain land under Acts repealed by Schedule 8 to become Crown land under this Act. Section 1.10 then provides for this land to be vested in the Crown.
Land that will become Crown land under this Act includes land vested in the Crown that is dedicated for a public purpose. This land was previously excluded from the definition of Crown land in the Crown Lands Act 1989. See also section 1.8 (2).

Thursday, 21 June 2018

At last! A way to gaol the entire Turnbull Government



Excerpts from the  Explanatory Memorandum for CRIMINAL CODE AMENDMENT (IMPERSONATING A COMMONWEALTH BODY) BILL 2017

The Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017 (the Bill) will introduce new offences and a new injunction power to prohibit and prevent conduct amounting to false representation of a Commonwealth body….

It is essential that the public can trust in the legitimacy and accuracy of statements made by Commonwealth bodies. The amendments are critical to ensure the public has confidence in the legitimacy of communications emanating from Commonwealth bodies, thereby safeguarding the proper functioning of Government…..

The Bill introduces a primary offence where the person is reckless as to whether their conduct will result in, or is reasonably capable of resulting in, a false representation. These amendments also create a new aggravated offence where a person engages in such conduct with the intent to obtain a gain, cause a loss, or influence the exercise of a public duty.

This bill finally passed both house of the Australian Parliament on 18 June 2018.

Of course the bill doesn’t actually allow the gaoling of every member of the Turnbull Coalition Government for two to five years.

A government whose members have turned the uttering of outright lies and the continual misrepresentation of fact into art forms. Who only pretend to be governing in the interests of the people.

But a voter can dream, can't she?

This bill was created with the sole purpose of providing the Turnbull Government with a weapon to use during the forthcoming election campaign.

Monday, 11 June 2018

The Turnbull Government is about to decide what is in the "public interest" and what is "fair and accurate reporting"...


And how the Turnbull Government couches these definitions in relation to national security and classified information may decide if a whistleblower or journalist ends up spending two years in an Australian gaol.

Excerpts from National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 currently before the Parliament of Australia:

122.4 Unauthorised disclosure of information by Commonwealth officers and former Commonwealth officers
 (1) A person commits an offence if:
(a) the person communicates information; and
(b) the person made or obtained the information by reason of his or her being, or having been, a Commonwealth officer or otherwise engaged to perform work for a Commonwealth  entity; and
(c) the person is under a duty not to disclose the information; and
(d) the duty arises under a law of the Commonwealth.
           Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.
(2) Absolute liability applies in relation to paragraph (1)(d)
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in 10 this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3)).

122.5 Defences
Powers, functions and duties in a person’s capacity as a 4 Commonwealth officer etc. or under arrangement……
Information communicated in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013
(4) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence by a person against this Division relating to the communication of information that the person communicated the information in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013.
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in 24 this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3)).
Information communicated to a court or tribunal
(5) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence by a person against this Division relating to the communication of information that the person communicated the information to a court or tribunal (whether or not as a result of a requirement).
Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3))......

Information dealt with or held for the purposes of fair and accurate reporting…
(6) It is a defence to a prosecution for an offence by a person against this Division relating to the dealing with or holding of information that the person dealt with or held the information:
(a) in the public interest (see subsection (7)); and
(b) in the person’s capacity as a journalist engaged in fair and accurate reporting. Note: A defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to the matters in this subsection (see subsection 13.3(3))......


SECRECY OFFENCES - DEFENCES AND OTHER MATTERS

Recommendation 26
5.87 The Committee recommends that the following proposed defences be broadened to cover all dealings with information, rather than being limited to communication of information:
§ proposed section 122.5(3) – relating to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner,
§ proposed section 122.5(4) – relating to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013,
§ proposed section 122.5(5) – relating information provided to a court or tribunal, and
§ proposed section 122.5(8) – relating to information that has been previously communicated. 

Recommendation 27
5.90 The Committee recommends that the Attorney-General’s proposed amendments to the defence for journalists at proposed section 122.5(6), and the associated amendments at 122.5(7), be implemented. This includes expanding the defence to all persons engaged in reporting news, presenting current affairs or expressing editorial content in news media where the person reasonably believed that dealing with or holding the information was in the public interest.
The Committee also recommends that the Government consider further refinements to the proposed defence in order to
§ make explicit that editorial support staff are covered by the defence, including legal advisors and administrative staff,
§ ensure editorial staff and lawyers, who are engaging with the substance of the information, be required to hold a reasonable belief that their conduct is in the public interest, and
§ allow administrative support staff working at the direction of a journalist, editor or lawyer who holds the reasonable belief, to benefit from the defence.

The Australian Attorney-General and Liberal MP for Pearce Christian Porter sent out this media release on 7 June 2018:

Attorney-General, Christian Porter, welcomed the release today of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security on the Government’s National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017.

"This is a major step forward in securing passage of this critical legislation and protecting Australia’s democratic systems from Foreign Interference, and it is my expectation that the Bill will be considered and passed during the next sitting period later this month," the Attorney-General said.

"The Committee has made 60 recommendations, the large majority of which are minor changes to definitions and drafting clarifications. The most substantive changes are those that adopt the Government’s proposed amendments which I submitted to the Committee as part of its deliberations earlier this year.

"Those Government amendments expanded the public interest defence for journalists and created separate graduated offences for commonwealth officers and non-commonwealth officers. The amendments were designed to strike the best possible balance between keeping Australia safe and not impeding the ordinary and important work of journalists and media organisations.

"In addition to minor drafting amendments and the adoption of the substantive Government amendments that I provided earlier this year, the additional substantive changes now recommended include that:

*There be a reduction to the maximum penalties for the proposed new secrecy offences, and to require the consent of the Attorney-General to any prosecution under these proposed new secrecy offences;
* That all secrecy offences in other Commonwealth legislation are reviewed; and
* Clarification that the journalism defence extends to all editorial, legal and administrative staff within the news organisation.

"Even in the time that it has taken to consider the Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill, the threat environment has changed and become more acute. As senior ASIO officials have said repeatedly in recent months, we now live in a time of unprecedented foreign intelligence activity against Australia with more foreign agents, from more foreign powers, using more tradecraft to engage in espionage and foreign interference than at any time since the Cold War."

"Given the rapid change in the threat environment it is the Government’s intention to consider the report and recommendations for amendments very quickly and my expectation is that the Bill, in essentially the form now recommend by the Committee, should be passed through Parliament during the next sitting period later this month; noting of course the primary and most significant recommendation of the report is that the Bill be passed."

The Attorney-General said this Bill and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill were both critical to modernising our national security laws as part of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to keep Australians safe and the Attorney-General wanted to make particular note of the hard work of the Committee in the last two weeks to produce this most recent Report.

"Safeguarding Australia’s national security will always remain the Turnbull Government’s number one priority and the Committee’s role in considering and making amendments to national security legislation is at the centre of a process that has seen ten tranches of national security laws passed since 2014, with the Government accepting 128 recommendations of the Committee, resulting in 293 Government amendments," the Attorney-General said.

"This process was conducted squarely in the national interest and represented a real fulfilment of Australians expectations for cooperative bipartisan conduct when serious national security issues are at stake. On this point I would like to personally thank the Chair Andrew Hastie MP, the Shadow Attorney–General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, and Deputy Chair, the Hon Anthony Byrne MP, for their skilled and good faith dealings with my office to deliver recommendations which ultimately improve the Bill."

It goes without saying that incorporated community organisations, grassroots activists and social media bloggers/commentators are not afforded the protection of any detailed set of defences set out in the bill or in report recommendations.

On 8 June 2018 this was how the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and World Wildlife Fund - Australia saw their position under the provisions of this bill and review recommendations:

WWF-Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation say charities who hold the Australian Government to account on its environmental record, could be charged under proposed foreign interference and espionage laws.

Both groups say changes recommended by a bipartisan committee, to address “overreach” concerns with the Bill, don’t go far enough.

“We could still be charged with espionage just for doing our job, which is a ridiculous situation,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

Charities such as WWF-Australia and ACF are often sought out by international bodies to provide independent analysis and a scientific assessment on the Australian Government’s environmental performance.

If either organisation briefed the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on failings to address threats to endangered species they could be charged with espionage. 

Or if they gave evidence to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on shortfalls in Australia’s record on the environment they could face espionage charges. 

“Providing independent analysis is core business for environmental organisations trying to save Australia’s forests and threatened species,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“Would the 2050 Plan to save the Great Barrier Reef have happened without attention from UNESCO?”

ACF Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Paul Sinclair said: “Protests and advocacy may make some politicians uncomfortable, but they are essential ingredients of a vibrant democracy and healthy environment.

“Our security is of course important. But restricting civil society advocacy in its name is dangerous and would limit the community’s ability to hold the powerful to account for any damage they cause to our clean air, clean water and safe climate.

“All parties must work to rewrite this bill to strengthen protections for the public oversight, free expression and peaceful protest that makes our democracy strong.”

These conservation organisations have some reason to be concerned as committal for trial for an espionage or foreign interference offence is essentially a political decision taken by the Attorney-General, given s93.1 of National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 requires consent from the Attorney-General to proceed.

Given the antipathy displayed by the Abbott and Turnbull Coalition Governments towards any form of organised political, social or environmental activism, it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which a federal government would act maliciously against those opposing its policy positions or actions and use the provisions in this bill to effect such an act.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Berejiklian Government stacks the deck ahead of next NSW state election


Echo NetDaily, 29 May 2018:

Nationals MLC Ben Franklin has defended new political donation laws after being accused by the Greens of ramming it through last Thursday night and providing only a week for the opposition to digest.

The new rules, say the Greens, will see ‘third party’ groups like unions, GetUp, Sea Shepherd and World Wildlife Fund see their spending caps halved to $500,000.
Additionally the new laws apply to local councils, where some will be able to spend more per voter than others, the party says.

Yet the Electoral Funding Bill 2018 ‘includes some positive measures’, including ‘the definition of prohibited donors, increased transparency and some spending caps in local government election’.

Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith described the new laws as ‘the most undemocratic ever seen in the state’.

‘Community groups like GetUp, Sea Shepherd, World Wildlife Fund and Marriage Equality have had their funding caps slashed while the old parties have given themselves a massive windfall in both money to run elections and money received after elections,’ Ms Smith told The Echo.

‘The Greens have led the charge when it comes to supporting caps on electoral expenditure but we say that if third party environmental and social justice groups have had their spending halved why haven’t political parties?’ she added.

The Guardian, 23 May 2018:

The legislation would cap campaign spending by an advocacy group at $500,000 during the lead-up to an election, down from the current limit of up to $1.288m, which applies to both major political parties and third-party groups.

Major parties would keep the higher cap on communications spending. The caps operate from 1 October in the year before an election until election day.

The 22 LiberalNationals, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers and Christian Democratic 
party members of the NSW Legislative Council voting for NSW Electoral Funding Bill 2018 on 23 May 2018 were as follows:

Amato, L
Blair, N
Borsak, R
Brown, R
Clarke, D
Colless, R
Cusack, C
Fang, W
Farlow, S
Franklin, B
Green, P
Harwin, D
Khan, T
MacDonald, S
Maclaren-Jones, N
Mallard, S
Martin, T
Mason-Cox, M
Mitchell,
Nile, F
Phelps, P
Ward, P

Which resulted in the bill officially passing in both houses of the NSW Parliament on 24 May 2018.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

A guide for those following the Turnbull Government response to evidence given in the Financial Services Rooyal Commission


It won't be long before members of the Turnbull Government - from lowly backbenchers through to cabinet ministers - will be seeking to find excuses to give banks, along with finance and insurance companies, a 'get out of gaol free' card despite whatever findings and recommendations are contained in the final report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

It almost goes without saying that such big political donors are bound to have some members of the government willing to fight in their corner in order to water down whatever post-royal commission legislative provisions are proposed.


To help with discerning just who might play those games, here is a list of Liberal and Nationals MPs and senators with banking/finance/insurance/superannuation backgrounds or who worked for large accountancy firms.


Altogether they make up 16.98 per cent of the Turnbull Government.
 
AUSTRALIAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 45TH PARLIAMENT

Malcolm Turnbull MP (Lib) – former investment banker, Goldman Sachs

Josh Frydenberg MP (Lib) - former director, Deutsche Bank AG 

Kelly O’Dwyer MP (Lib) - former executive, National Australia Bank

Mathias Cormann MP (Lib) – former health services manager & acting general manager, HBF Insurance

Scott Bucholz MP (Lib) - former agri-finance manager

Bert Van Manen MP (Lib) - former bank officer, financial adviser 

Jason Falinski MP (Lib) - former strategy and M&A, Insurance Australia Group

Steven Ciobo MP (Lib) - former senior associate, Australasian Institute of Banking and Finance

John McVeigh MP (Lib) – former graduate executive trainee, Bank of Queensland

Barnaby Joyce MP (Nat) - former rural banker

Kevin  Hogan MP (Nat) -  former money market and bond trader, State Bank of NSW/Colonial State Bank & former Investment officer, Australian Catholic Superannuation Fund, former superannuation consultant 

Michelle Landry MP (Nat) - former supervisor, National Australia Bank

David Littleproud MP (Nat) – former banking and finance roles

AUSTRALIAN SENATE 45TH PARLIAMENT

Jane Hume SEN (Lib) - former investment research manager NAFM/ NAB, private banker NAB, senior manager, Rothschild Australia, vice president Deutsche Bank
Arthur Sinodinos SEN (Lib) - former banker

Dean Smith SEN (Lib) - former head insurance strategy, IAG

OTHER MEMBERS OF TURNBULL GOVERNMENT WHO FORMERLY WORKED FOR LARGE ACCOUNTANCY FIRMS/FINANCIAL INDUSTRY GROUPS

Ian Goodenough MP (Lib) - former accountant and senior associate, Financial Services Institute of Australasia

Michael Sukkar MP (Lib) – former senior consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Matt Canavan SEN (Nat) – former senior executive, KPMG 

Note: Employment descriptions are ones that have been used by MPs & Senators themselves as of 28/04/18

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Shock, Horror! A Liberal minister finally makes a stab at lessening gouging by payday lending and rent-as-you-buy companies and Liberal MPs have a conniption




According to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) this bill has merit.


2. We support the financial inclusion objectives of the Exposure Draft of the National Consumer Credit Protection Amendment (Small Amount Credit Contract and Consumer Lease Reforms) Bill 2017 (the Bill). The consumer harms that can be associated with payday loans and consumer leases are a longstanding and systemic feature of these sectors and often fall on financially vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers. We consider that the Bill will provide an effective suite of protections commensurable to the risk of harm to consumers from these products, balanced against the need to ensure that the industry can remain viable.

3 In particular, we support the level of the cap on costs for consumer leases proposed in the Bill. We expect a cap set at this level will address the excessive costs some lessors charge consumers, while still allowing a viable and sustainable consumer lease sector.

4 We also support the introduction of the Bill’s comprehensive anti-avoidance regime, which will benefit both consumers and compliant businesses. These measures will be essential to address the increased risk of avoidance activity following the introduction of the reforms.

Yet this is the response from Liberal Party backbenchers.........

The Courier Mail, 12 February 2018:

IRATE backbenchers have revolted over Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer’s tough payday lending draft laws and have successfully enlisted Treasurer Scott Morrison to reverse Cabinet’s support of the Bill.

As the Turnbull Government desperately searches for a circuit breaker from Barnaby Joyce’s sex scandal, frustrations have spilt over against Ms O’Dwyer’s original handling of new laws targeting payday lenders and rent-to-buy businesses, with backbenchers complaining to the Prime Minister.

A bloc of about 20 backbenchers, including several in Queensland, are warning Ms O’Dwyer’s reforms will send some businesses broke and are an affront to Liberal values.

In a move that will be pilloried by consumer groups angry over rent-to-buy lenders charging up to 800 per cent interest, a group of MPs, labelled by some in the Government as the “Parliamentary Friends of Payday Lenders” – a title that is angering the bloc – has convinced Mr Morrison to retreat on parts of the draft laws.

It would be an embarrassing move for Cabinet, which ticked off on the reforms last year.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Australian Politics 2018: and you foolishly thought things might get better this year


Well the democracy canary in the political coal mine fell senseless to the bottom of its cage this month when the Turnbull Government admitted that a high level of secrecy would surround its extra-parliamentary review of religious freedom in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 2017:

Public submissions to the Turnbull government's review of religious freedom in Australia will be kept secret, in a marked departure from normal processes, according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's department.

The department, which has control of the inquiry, said it would not publish the submissions, which is in stark contrast to ordinary parliamentary inquiries, in which most submissions are automatically released.

"Submissions to the Expert Panel will not be published online," a department spokesman said in an emailed statement. "However, where individuals provide consent, submission extracts may be included in public materials."

Late on Tuesday, however, Mr Turnbull's media team sought to intervene by suggesting inquiry chairman Philip Ruddock would decide if submissions were published. The PM's office then instructed his own department to issue a new statement to that effect.

An hour later, the department said decisions on releasing submissions would rest on "whether individuals have provided consent", but that appears impossible, because the online consent form assures people their submission "will not be published in its entirety".

It is expected the high-profile inquiry - prompted by fears about the impact of same-sex marriage on religious practice - will attract submissions from Australia's biggest churches, including the Catholic and Anglican archdioceses of Sydney and Melbourne. It presents an opportunity for religious organisations and other advocates to spell out the exact changes to the law they believe are necessary.

Mr Ruddock said when contacted on Tuesday that the panel had not discussed the publication of submissions and ultimately it was a matter for the PM's department…..

The expert panel - which also includes Australian Human Rights Commission president Rosalind Croucher, Catholic priest Frank Brennan and retired judge Annabelle Bennett - is expected to meet for the first time next Wednesday. 

However, the negative response in mainstream and social media saw the democracy canary revived and placed on life support as the secrecy provisions in the online Consent form have been changed and now only apply to all those submissions received to date.

"The Expert Panel has not yet determined a final approach to publication of submissions. Submissions already provided will not be published without the agreement of the author" 

Which given that the majority of submissions would have been received by now means that it is highly unlikely that submissions made on behalf of religious institutions will ever be published by the Expert Panel.

NOTE

The submission period for the Religious Freedom Review commenced in December 2017 and ends on 31 January 2018 with the Expert Panel to deliver its findings by 31 March 2018.